London has always been a hotbed for the seductive, saucy and down-right sordid. From the brothels of Roman Londinium and the stews of medieval Bankside to the Restoration Rakes and Soho’s swinging sixties, this city has long traded in the currency of sex. Erotic material – such as these relief tiles – was widely available in the 18th century, if one knew where to go and had the means with which to acquire it. Warning: explicit images in post! Read the full post
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The story of London Tweed
So this is how the story goes. In 1826 a London merchant decides to buy some cloth from a weaver in Hawick, a town in the Scottish borders famous for its cloth production. Very happy with his order, he decides to get some more but – crucially – misreads the weaver’s dashed handwriting. Instead of ‘twill’ this Londoner reads ‘tweed’, and assumes this new cloth must take after the River Tweed which runs fast and clear through the textile areas of lower Scotland. ‘Tweed’ and not ’twill’ has been the term used ever since.
Miss Levy’s Wedding Dress
This whole thing started a few years ago when a wedding dress came up at auction. Not being a wedding dress swooner I could nevertheless think of quite a few (entirely rational) reasons why the museum should acquire this particular example. For one thing it was made by Victor Stiebel, one of my favourite London couturiers. Secondly, we do not have enough of his creations (one never does) and they do not come up at auction very often. The dress also had an intriguing mystery inscription. We will get to that in a moment.
Rhinestones and Nylon Net
Ever since watching The King and I (1956 version) at a very impressionable age, I have been rather fond of dancing (and crinolines – but that’s another story). My grandmothers and I spent many happy hours marvelling at the clothes, hairstyles and make-up of the participants in the World Championships broadcast on television.